Luu: Can you tell us how you got involved with Almased, and what is some of the research you've done with Almased?
Berg: In my department in Freiburg, at the university medical center, we started in about 2000. For us it was interesting, because some of our athletes take Almased for weight reduction. And, as you know, I'm a doctor in sports medicine, not only internal medicine; our specific topic is sports medicine, and so many of our patients are athletes or performance athletes.
In Freiburg, at international competitions, some of the athletes told us about Almased. That was our first exposure to it. At these events we heard that it works, but we didn’t know why, or how, at the time. So we decided to start with a pilot study with only 12 people. And the results were very interesting.
Luu: Can you describe the significance of the first results from the study?
Berg: The first results of the study were very significant. That was when we began to think that Almased could be like a therapy for obesity and for metabolic diseases. So about one year later we started a randomized control study in Freiburg. And the target of this trial was obesity. After the first month, the results were very good, new and original.
Luu: What were the first study results seen after using Almased?
Berg: The first result was highly significant weight reduction after six months, and also six months using Almased as a meal replacement. After that, it was only once a day with Almased. And we saw a reduction in weight, after six months, of about 22 pounds.
In addition, it was a study with about three groups with 90 people in total. It was a very good sample size, and it was well-randomized.
We saw that the impact of the lifestyle intervention was not very effective compared to the Almased-alone intervention. Plus, increased physical activity did not show the same benefits of Almased on its own; the effect of exercise was smaller.
Luu: What is it about Almased that helps people tackle weight loss so effectively?
Berg: With Almased, you have a negative energy balance, and so you have healthy weight reductions, thanks to that, specifically.
That’s why, in another study, we looked primarily at Almased as a meal replacement, as we wanted to see its effects on energy balance.
In addition, we know more about the combination of soy and milk protein, both of which are in Almased. They’re a very good source of amino acids because they are well absorbed, but not too rapidly absorbed. There is not only one peak after a meal, but a constant level of amino acid absorption.
Plus, compared to the intake of animal protein, you have a very good nitrogen balance for soy and milk protein. That means you spare nitrogen, and you have minimal nitrogen lost in comparison to animal protein. It's better for your protein stores and also for muscle mass. In addition to observing a 22-pound weight reduction in the first study, we also saw no reduction in lean muscle mass.
Luu: Many people who are concerned about soy, wonder whether Almased can be used by men as well as women?
Berg: Almased can be used by both men and women. But as to the fact that soybeans have isoflavones in them, you have about two milligrams of isoflavones in one gram of soy protein, but [Almased’s] benefits cannot solely be attributed to isoflavones.
We have also seen that there are a lot of biologically active peptides [in Almased], both from soy and milk protein, and these peptides help the body in such areas as healthy blood pressure, in addition to the synthesis of free fatty acids and triglycerides. These and other metabolic markers are all helped by these bioactive peptides.
Again, we see similar benefits in men and women, young and elderly; it makes no difference.
Plus [Almased] works very well as part of your daily nutrition, since it’s not necessary to combine it with physical activity. The biological peptides support healthy increases in metabolism of fatty acids, in addition to an increase in the enzyme activity in mitochondria, which helps the body to derive energy from fat.
So people who take it can reduce fat, as needed, or can use it for energy metabolism, where it helps fat burning. There is also no appetite for carbohydrates since your metabolism switches from burning carbohydrates to fat for energy.
Luu: When using Almased for strength training, when is the best time to use Almased?
Berg: I think the best timing is 20 to 30 minutes after exercise. After exercise, you need a higher intake of protein and amino acids. Plus you have an increase in the synthesis of your protein, also in muscle protein, after exercise.
In addition, you need more amino acids after exercise because you have an increase in the transport of amino acids through the muscle membrane. In fact, you'll have increased activity in all the special transporters through the muscle membrane. So taking in amino acids helps the body include amino acids in the muscle itself.
Luu: How does Almased support healthy blood sugar levels?
Berg: First, the input of carbohydrates by Almased is very low. You have some carbohydrates from milk, and also some carbohydrates from the honey in Almased, but not much. Plus the product is low on the glycemic index, 27, and so only a minimal amount of insulin is needed.
But if you have a high glycemic index, you have also a high insulin peak after this carbohydrate intake. And if you eat foods with a high glycemic index for many, many years, you can become overweight or obese. Your body will need more and more insulin every day, which can lead to hyperinsulinemia and, some years later, can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Luu: What effect does Almased have when used as part of a diabetic diet or low-glycemic diet?
Berg: A low-glycemic diet supports your insulin and can lead to your receptors for insulin becoming more activated, and you have lower demand for insulin. Therefore, it's possible to have normal values after six or eight weeks after following a low-glycemic diet.
Luu: Well, Professor Berg, thank you so much for your time today and for helping us to better understand how Almased benefits the body.
Berg: Thank you, it was my pleasure.